Lymphedema is a condition that most people associate with women and breast cancer, but men can get it too. It is characterized by swelling in the extremities, usually in the arms or legs, caused by an accumulation of lymph fluid. Lymphedema most often occurs in men following cancer surgery and radiation for areas like the head/neck, breast, prostate, pancreas, bladder, kidney, and liver. In this article, we’ll discuss the risks of lymphedema in men, the warning signs to look out for, the importance of an early diagnosis, and how physical therapy can help.
Lymphedema afflicts up to 10 million people in the U.S. alone. It has been reported that the incidence of lymphedema following cancer surgery varies widely across studies and types of cancer, but some estimates suggest that between 5% and 40% of men may develop lymphedema following cancer surgery.
It’s important to note that lymphedema can occur immediately after surgery or develop many months or even years later, so ongoing monitoring and early intervention can be important for reducing the risk of complications associated with this condition.